Too Late for a Realization…: Our Review of ‘Dreamin’ Wild’

Posted in Theatrical by - August 25, 2023
Too Late for a Realization…: Our Review of ‘Dreamin’ Wild’

I will openly admit I am most likely the wrong audience for this film. Even some of the best versions of these types of films do next to nothing for me but I can appreciate what it has going for it. Sadly, it just does not resonate. Musical biopics come so often, sometimes about people or bands I am familiar with (Elvis and Johnny Cash for example). And other times, they’re about people I’ve legitimately never heard of like the Emerson brothers. It doesn’t make their story or hardships any less interesting or engaging. It just makes it harder to possibly connect with. Dreamin’ Wild certainly has a lot of things going for it. It’s just that at the end, it feels like almost every other musical biopic without the glitz and glam. And since the music did not resonate with me, it ultimately missed the mark.

The film focuses on the Emerson brothers, Joe (Walton Googins) and Donnie (Casey Affleck) as they’re in their midlife stage after they failed to become the musicians they always wanted to as their sophomore album, Dreamin’ Wild never truly took off. However, everything changes when they get rediscovered nearly thirty years later, and their album is picking up traction globally. They meet Matt Sullivan (Chris Messina).

Matt is a label producer who wants to re-release their album as a 30th anniversary and try to make them the stars they always wanted to be. The two brothers certainly have a difference of opinion in how they wish to proceed. This is outlined with flashbacks of what pursuing this initially did to them, and are met at a crossroads of how to proceed. The film tries to navigate the switching timelines and the ultimate decision they have to make together. But it is a very melancholic story and atmosphere that just has a foggy haze to it all.

While writer/director Bill Pohlad certainly made a name for himself with Love & Mercy it is not his direction that is in question here, but rather the script itself. Everything having this washed over melancholic tone to it just makes it feel like a somber telling of the Emerson’s lives versus a more engrossing biopic. While there are certainly aspects to the film that do shine, it is not in the script itself.

The real standout of the film is Casey Affleck. He plays Donnie with such conviction, heart, and adds inner conflict to his character it truly brings the performance to life. Walton Goggins and Zooey Deschanel playing Nancy (Donnie’s wife) are not being as heavily featured or supported. So the film really has life breathed into it by Affleck as he carries the film mostly. Overall, the direction from Pohlad and performance from Affleck are what compels the audience throughout the film. But the gloomy storytelling is ultimately where the movie loses its footing.

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My earliest movie memory, outside of my home theatre in my basement, was going to the local Video 99 and wanting to rent ET only to be told by the shop owner it was playing down the street in theatres. My love for cinema has been alive for as long as I can honestly remember. I would frequent the cinema minutes down from my house daily. It was a second home. Movies are an escape from the everyday world, a window into the soul, a distant friend. If I’m not watching a movie, I’m probably watching a tv show, if I’m doing neither I’m asleep. Feel free to interact me at @Dubsreviews
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